By Dapo Oshiyemi
Most seasoned business observers will tell you that what I’m about to say here is far from new, it happens all the time, which is true, and why does it happen? Because like with most cycles in any industry’s development, it reaches a critical economic mass and new entrants come into the market for a piece of the action.
Nollywood is one of those industries that has reached that stage in its development and when I say reached that stage in its development, in plain simple language, I mean it is worth $5.1billion with a population of 170m people in Nigeria. If you add to this, the fact that there are also 10m more Nigerians scattered across the world mainly in the USA and UK and Nollywood’s growth rate of 14% which is almost three times what Hollywood is going right now, you can see the appeal and why no right thinking businessman, corporation or Government anywhere in the world can afford to ignore this growing industry.
Now we get to the question of who are the main players in this industry? In one corner you have the people who built the industry and currently run it and the Nigerian Government who control the very fragile economic infrastructure which this multi-billion dollar industry operates within, on the other side you have international businessmen, multi-national corporations and foreign Governments currently on the outside looking in, they want control, which means taking a very large piece of the cake.
If you go by history and what has happened to most African industries, there is usually only one winner here, and that is the multi-national conglomerates and foreign governments, in this case it will be Hollywood, Google, U-tube and the like, in one word the USA. They never want a piece of the action, they usually want the whole cake and generally they get it except if you are China….. and Nigeria is certainly no China.
So the next question is, why am I writing this if the outcome is so certain? Well the answer is I want to create some awareness or even galvanise the two weaker parties in this power struggle into action and hope we can have a different outcome in this David vs. Goliath battle. Yes, Hollywood and the rest of corporate America are welcome to a piece of the cake, in fact they are more than welcome, it’s a very big cake but I certainly don’t want them taking the whole cake, which at the moment seems to be the most likely outcome.
Why does it seem like the most likely outcome? Well I have just returned from the Africa International Film festival in Calabar (A remote a town in the far eastern part of Nigeria) and yes what? They were there, I mean the big corporations and Silicon Valley investors using the same tactics that got Africa colonised in the first place…. They come in with the message of ‘we are here to listen, help, engage and collaborate with you to make things better’, what they are really saying is ‘we have come, we want the whole of this cake, so move over or get crushed’.
Now this message is not delivered by a white face, no they are watching in the background…. it is usually delivered by someone who looks and sounds like me (by the way I’m London born Nigerian) in one word they are my Brother or Sister, then they use one of us to cause disruption, I call it the divide and rule technic- where they create an environment that encourages the indigenous to fight amongst ourselves – it always works in Africa and while we are fighting amongst ourselves, they take as much as possible and what they cannot take they buy up, usually at rock bottom prices, and before you know it, they have the whole cake, GAME OVER! Thank you very much.